“You probably won’t be any more happy there than you are here,” she said. “Or unhappy.”
Which might have been true. Heck, was probably true. I never found out, though, for I never ran away to Chattanooga. But still—the main impulse is right, I think. Sometimes you just have to pack up and go. Hit the road and leave everyone and everything behind….
Janet put on a jacket and gathered up her purse and a battered Rand McNally road atlas. Seven times in the last eight weeks she had dropped Jay off at Steve's, then set out on long drives out of town, driving eight or ten or twelve hours, thinking, thinking, stopping late for a motel room—twice sleeping in the front seat of her car—then turning back in the early morning and heading home. Each drive—to Dalhart, Clovis, Carlsbad, El Paso, Big Bend, Wichita, Little Rock—she saw as a dry run, practice for when she really left town for good.
The opening scene with Janet and her son is taken from one of my earliest memories, a morning when I was sitting at the table with my mom when we were startled by a sonic boom….
“It's when a plane goes faster than the speed of sound,” Janet said. “You know what that is?”
Jay shook his head.
“Okay, let's say that airplane came busting through the wall just now”—Janet pointed with her cigarette at the wall just behind Jay—“and I yelled 'Get down, Jay!' But no matter how fast I yelled at you, the plane would still run you over, 'cause it would be going faster than my words.”
Jay twisted around in his chair and looked at the wall, as if judging the likelihood of a jet bursting through it at any moment. Then he turned back to his cereal and began eating, every now and then looking up at his mother. He didn't say anything.
Janet thinks, “…at the speed of sound, you could get a long way away, maybe before anyone even noticed you were gone.”
Several people have pointed out, correctly, that Janet’s decision to flee—to bolt and leave her kid behind—would be a selfish one. But sometimes we write about selfish people, and sometimes we are selfish people. Life is like that.
There are jets--RF4Cs, in fact--in this story, and so I'll run this video again....